Moroccan Henna: The Branding of the Gullible Tourist

After hours of walking through the winding maze of slim streets that branch out from the center associated with Marrakesh Bazaar, we finally reach a wide available area surrounded by tourist restaurants, snake charmers and wandering vendors who try desperately to push their trinkets into our hands in an effort to make an impromptu sale.

It’s right here that i am aware I will inevitably become spending too much money for something We don’t need.


Center for the Marrakesh Bazaar — view from above

Getting ripped off is something i usually budget in to the price of visiting a brand new nation, wherever in the world it’s. I like to think about the surplus cash I spend in those very first few days in a fresh spot as my “foreigner’s taxation” – the price We buy my ignorance until We learn my method across the change rate, the local economy and what the actual costs are of specific basics like bread, beer and taxis.

From the vividly every experience when I had been conned traveling to a nation for the first time – the taxi driver in Cairo, Egypt whom agreed on a cost of ten Egyptian pounds to push me personally towards the Pyramids then stated, “Oh, We implied ten British pounds, maybe not ten Egyptian pounds,” and refused to allow me personally from the car until finally I kicked my way out, tossed 15 Egyptian pounds at him and went off in such a hurry which he managed to hold on to the best music CD. There was the bartender in Montreal, Canada whom reversed the exchange price associated with U.S. buck to your Canadian dollar to ensure that we paid two times the standard cost for my beverages. There clearly was the Russian babushka whom sold me personally a bag of ordinary sticks and convinced me these were a special form of Russian tea. And there clearly was the coach driver in Turkey who charged me ten times more than the local passenger rate, presuming I would personallyn’t understand the distinction.


Marrakesh marketplace is full of eye candy

In Marrakesh, my foreigner’s tax comes in the form of an unwelcome henna attack, which occurs while i’m trying to prevent a strange man from wrapping a huge python around my neck.

When I you will need to peel the ten-foot-long reptile off my arms while nodding and smiling within an work never to spook the snake, I notice my buddies Kristi and Meg are experiencing their fingers stroked by two Moroccan females covered from head to toe in traditional garb. I take advantage of my friends being an reason to escape the python and his handler but, before I can ask my friends exactly what they’re doing, a woman grabs my arm tightly and starts drawing floral designs on my hands with plastic tubes of brown henna.


Meg is both amused and not sure of what exactly is taking place

“Wait…no…what performs this price?” We ask Meg and Kristi, who have succumbed to your entrapment associated with smiling, crooning Moroccan females sat squeezing brown paste on their hands like they truly are decorating a cake.

Kristi appears specially unimpressed as the woman covered assailant works very fast and forcefully, drawing brown, squiggly designs all up Kristi’s forearm. She laughs, “I don’t even understand exactly how this happened. We informed her to end…”

The henna-drawing assault is over in several quick mins, where point Ryan has wandered over to me personally to see just what is being done to my arms. “exactly what in the…did you would like this?” he asks when I shake my mind vigorously. “What is this likely to price?”

“Sheep! Extremely sheep cost!” The henna lady reacts. Five hundred Dirham just!”

I operate from my stool and shout, “Five hundred Dirham? Are you crazy?! That’s $ 50!”

“Very sheep! Stunning!” The woman smiles, keeping my defaced supply up to Ryan, who appears like he might turn the woman ugly and shake the girl.

I grab Ryan by the supply and tell him I’m no way planning to pay 500 Dirham. Yes, I became forced into getting a henna tattoo, but I would personally give the woman the things I feel is a affordable cost. I grab a one-hundred Dirham note and hand it towards the girl, whom instantly spits and swats my hand away. “No 100! Five hundred Dirham! This nothing available!”

We walk away through the woman as she screams after me personally, and I slow down my speed, as I’ve been in this case often times prior to. The sensation of being conned never absolves me personally from the sense of guilt that accompany realizing that such hopeless strategies are born of the need plus find it difficult to survive, to put food available also to make a meager living off the wealthy tourists that pass briefly through these countries, their pouches lined with cash to invest on good meals and souvenirs to create home.

We turn around and face the girl shouting at me. “i’ll give you one hundred Dirham or i am going to give you absolutely nothing. Your choice.” We wave my arm at her and state, “This was not my option. 100 Dirham is nice.”

“No good!” The woman screams. But she grabs my one-hundred Dirham note and spins on her behalf heels, walking away to seize another naive tourist available in the market square.

Meg and Kristi walk up next to us using their heads hanging low. “How a great deal did you provide them with?”

“Two-hundred fifty Dirham.”

“Twenty-five DOLLARS?!” Ryan explodes.

Kristi and Meg shrug their shoulders sheepishly as they say, nearly in unison, “I felt bad!”


Our gullible tourist stamps on complete display

We laugh, sympathizing with how the henna transaction has made united states feel; like we’ve been violated and branded aided by the tattoo of the gullible tourist, which we would wear with shame for the sleep of our amount of time in Morocco.

But, mentally, I reconcile our over-payment being a contribution to neighborhood families in need. And I write off my foreigner’s taxation being a necessary class in navigating the markets of Marrakesh: never ever let a person wrap a snake around your neck and never let a lady tattoo your arm without your authorization.


I prefer the stunning things I decide to buy on the people I’m forced to cover